So many of the symptoms of Bipolar Disorder are subtle enough to be mistaken for the typical ebb and flow of mood. There are, however, some markers that can help you or someone you know decide whether or not seeking professional evaluation should be considered.
Up-and-down moods of mania and depression is one of the primary characteristics of Bipolar Disorder. This can be to the point of losing touch with reality, but hypomania, or a high-energy state where you are able to maintain a context of reality, is also common. An inability to complete tasks is also common, because in a manic state, people living with Bipolar Disorder may start grand projects only to abandon them once they sink into depression.
And that depression may look like “normal” depression, except that depression medications can actually increase the frequency of depressed states in the cycle from manic to depressed that is experienced.
Another common symptom is irritability, which occurs during “mixed mania” periods. This results from rapid changes in mood during a single day from depressed to manic. This is more pronounced than a level of irritability that just results from a bad day in that it often affects functionality in the workplace and in relationships. “Pressured speech,” or speaking at such a rapid rate that conversations become monologues is also a red flag, especially if it occurs at some times but not in the person’s every day speech patterns.
Finally, about 50% of people living with Bipolar Disorder have substance or alcohol abuse issues. This is often because the sufferer will turn to alcohol or substances to chemically slow them down during a manic phase or improve mood when they are depressed. Sleep cycle issues and erratic behavior are other red flags.
Because so many of the symptoms of Bipolar Disorder are merely inflated “normal” behaviors, The Meehl Foundation encourages any individual who is concerned to contact us today to learn more about how to be diagnosed professionally or to begin the process of living with, instead of suffering from, Bipolar Disorder.